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Posted on Wed, Jul 29, 2009 : 3:48 p.m.

Rich Rodriguez craves a better atmosphere at Michigan Stadium

By Dave Birkett

The quietest 110,000 fans in sports might get a little rowdy this fall.

Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez said he’s talked with the university’s marketing department about things they can do to create a better gameday atmosphere at Michigan Stadium.

Despite drawing some of college football’s biggest crowds for years - the Wolverines led the nation in attendance for the 10th straight season last year - Michigan is considered one of the more stale environments in the Big Ten.

“I think nowadays when people are coming to games they want entertainment,” Rodriguez said. “Obviously playing good football’s the best form of entertainment, but what else are you doing to get the crowd into the game and have it be a part of the game as opposed to just being there?”

Rodriguez said fans won’t see many noticeable changes this year.

“It’s a process,” he said. “It’s not going to happen overnight.”

But in the works are things like making “the band and the students and some music” more a part of the gameday experience.

“There’s some venues we’ve been to and some venues I’ve been to in the past that get everybody fired up,” Rodriguez said. “They just can’t wait to come. And we have that some. When we’re playing well, and I know in the Big House there’s been some great moments, but there’s more that we can do to make the experience even better for everybody. So that’s what we’re talking about.”

One change not on the docket is more night games.

Rodriguez said he’s asked about that possibility, but security is an issue because some of the parking lots around Michigan Stadium (including the golf course) don’t have lights.

“I think ESPN would love us to do that,” Rodriguez said. “I think some of our fans would like it, not a lot of them. But I think some would like it. I think we’d entertain it more if we had - lights in the stadium is not an issue, but lights in the parking lots.

“I think there’s a lot of issues regarding security that have more concerns as much as anything else.”



Thu, Jul 30, 2009 : 2:14 p.m.

No, Rich Rod, don't do it. Piping in "Jump Around" between quarters will not get people to stand and go nuts. I mean, it's the biggest stadium in the country and every game is a sellout. Why would you want to risk alienating the biggest supporters and those who are there for the actual game not just the "Sweet Caroline" and the egg-throwing contest. Don't mess with a beautiful thing.


Thu, Jul 30, 2009 : 12:33 p.m.

Please do not change a thing at the Big House. It is great every year when the TV broadcasters comment and say what a quiet stadium crowd. I have been there many times and I have been amazed how calm and quiet the crowd is. ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ


Thu, Jul 30, 2009 : 12:07 p.m.

I've read these interesting comments pertaining fan participation and agree that the Big House has never been a vocal areana. Some of this goes way back to the beginning when the emphasis at UofM was academic scholars and gentlemenly behavior. This was very much incouraged through out the years of Don Cahnan when students were discurraged from being disruptive of the game. Times have changed and if you ever are in the south or southwest during football season their involement doesn't start on saturday morning but all week long, even the local weathermen forcast all week for saturday's game time. Up here in Big Ten country we are not as crazy because for one we have so many other sports going on at the same time. As for standing through out the entire game to show spirit, not the only was to be vocal. At the price of a seat it is nice to use it, also older fans are just as important and young ones and can get as involved. If everyone stands then shorter people cannot see anything, so should we tell them to stay home also. Remember Kids are our future fans, too. What about health problems. It is wonderful to be Young and Healthy. How do you do the WAVE if all are standing. Yes it is noticable that the students are arriving later and they are the ones to lead in the cheering along with the cheerleaders and band. As for the Band ever since they lowered the field the Band cannot be heard through out the stadium anymore. It would be great to have Microphones to project their performances, Especially during Halftime. Adding Loud Music during time outs isn't the answer, with the megatran screens in place this is where we need to encourage participation. We also have been Fans since the early 50's and have seen many changes over the years and look forward to improving all aspects of gameday, and hope ALL fans are accommidated equally.


Thu, Jul 30, 2009 : 12:01 p.m.

Lets see. Michigan is forth in the nation in revenue. I think they could dish out a little to light the parking lots. It wouldn't be anything near what they paid for to renovate the stadium. That is a safety issue game day or not. Are they saying AA is not a safe place a night in general? Not the message I would be want to send the nation.

Dave Birkett

Thu, Jul 30, 2009 : 11:39 a.m.

Couple things. First, Sparky, I agree totally. I understand the need for home games and the money that comes with them, but I much prefer the USC approach to scheduling with two BCS schools. So much more enjoyable from a fan's perspective and adds to the intrigue nationally. This is nothing against the Michigan-Notre Dame rivalry, but that's seen as the old guard in college football. Spice it up with a Florida or Texas every now and then, or supplement it with a Virginia or UCLA. KingKY, you're right on about night games and the energy. LSU's a perfect example. Finally, heard this in Chicago. I'm too young to remember, but I guess Penn State use to have a pretty stale atmosphere, too. Twenty years ago or so, one of their marketing guys came on and wanted to change the culture. He went to a game at Wisconsin, saw the way they got the crowd involved with music and the like, and now Penn State is one of the best venues in the Big Ten. They're not talking about Bill Veeck-type promotions, just spicing up the atmosphere a little bit. And yes, the renovations should help the noise level, too.


Thu, Jul 30, 2009 : 10:51 a.m.

azwolverine, you're exactly right. This same thing happened to me a few years ago at the Penn State game. The very one that we won with a last second touchdown by Super Mario. I couldnt' believe it. The luxury boxes will serve two purposes: 1. keep the noise in 2. keep the old alumns who yell at us up high in their ivory towers so they don't complain.

Man in the Mirror

Thu, Jul 30, 2009 : 10:45 a.m.

For the past two years I have attended EVERY home and away game. My seats were on the 50 and wow I could not believe how BORING it was. There were a few of us that could not get the crowd into cheering whatsoever. It did'nt matter if they were winning or losing! Almost got into a couple of fights because we were disrupting the peace. No one would participate in "The Wave" when the student body tried to get it started, (and btw that wave is awesome)so they discontinued doing it. The poor cheerleaders, they would try and the majority would just sit there and look at them like they were aliens. Then you go on the road and the other stadiums are rocking with their fan base. I am no RR fan but I am glad that he is addressing this need and I will give him respect for that. Those athletes on the field need fan support regardless if they are winning or COME EARLY and BE LOUD! GO BLUE!


Thu, Jul 30, 2009 : 9:30 a.m.

I agree that the stadium structure and the blue hairs definitley bring down the corwd noise. But why can't they give away noise makers, like thunder sticks, or pump in some crowd noise over the PA prior to the game starting to get th ball rolling. The only time the corwd gets closed to fired up is during apost touchdown rendition of the best fight song ever.... so if RR's spread works the way it is supposed to we will be sing "..the Victors" alot!!


Thu, Jul 30, 2009 : 12:35 a.m.

The excitement in the stadium starts with watching a winning or, at least, competitive football team. When your team is losing to Toledo it's a little hard to maintain any enthusiasm. The noise level is pretty weak most of the time but, man, give me something to root for. I too remember the games in the 80s and 90s when the noise was really terrific and it can cause confusion for the opponent. But again, we were playing big name teams like Miami FL, UCLA, South Carolina, etc. Reason to get excited! Now everyone is after sure wins to make the bowls and is ducking anyone tough. Show some guts - schedule some tough teams( if you can. ) See how we really measure up - that creates excitement and the noise level will go up. The new configuration of the stadium should help hold in more noise too - we just need something to cheer for.


Wed, Jul 29, 2009 : 10:57 p.m.

The atmosphere @ Camp Randall is amazing (Jump Around) B4 the 4th quarter. I'd like to see something like that, which gets the whole stadium pumped and let's the opposing team never forget that the fans are there for all 4 quarters! I imagine all the old people sitting there huddled underneath their blankets telling others in front of them to sit down. God love them, but let's face it this is not your same Michigan teams anymore. Got to let it go. No turning back now. ALL IN FOR MICHIGAN!!! GO BLUE!!!


Wed, Jul 29, 2009 : 10:39 p.m.

Jusgre says: "The typical Michigan fan feels ENTITLED to win, whereas the typical Penn State fan feels HUNGRY to win." You are absolutely right -and this is how it should be! Our fight song is not some "go team go" tripe, but "Hail to the Victors." It's the Michigan Difference - excellence is expected. I think that may be hard for some new kids to understand, but that's how it is throughout the university, and may it always be so. Sam: The sound does dissipate - the parabolic cross-sevction of the stadium abets this - the boxes may help some. So will winning again! More noise is great, but boozey loutishness is not. Let those who want that go to Buck U or the SEC. I've been to some of those places, and have had some of their fans as guests in the Big House - we all notice the difference. And I treasure it.


Wed, Jul 29, 2009 : 9:31 p.m.

Its about time! I love the idea that RR is making some moves about elevating the atmosphere. I also think it would do us some good to play some night games. Just put up the stadium lights that shine both ways. Those kind of lights will shine on the field and outside the stadium. I firmly feel that night games are far more energy laden than constantly playing games at noon and 3:30, however games that start at 3:30 later in the season arent so bad because dark usually falls by the time the fourth quarter rolls around. But we need some 8 oclockers sprinkled in there. I also heard that Rita Rodriguez is pushing for some terrible maize towels for everyone this year...that will help. I like the idea of adding energetic music for timeouts, and even some presnap situations. All in all we need several things to help out with the betterment of the Big House, but I think we have the right man for the job. We not only have to change the culture of the team, we have to change the culture of the entire program. Lets get out there and make noise for god sake!! GO BLUE!


Wed, Jul 29, 2009 : 8:45 p.m.

Here's an idea to get a better atmosphere--give us big name opponents! Wow, what a concept! Seriously, you can only "get up" your emotions so much for the likes of Western, Eastern, and Delaware State. No offense to those schools, especially after our season last year, but those are typically "cupcake games" and once you get the lead it's like, "Okay, it over yet?" And now the big rumor is that our "big BCS" opponent to open the renovated stadium in 2010 will be... UConn. LAME! If true, Bill Martin just kicked all fans in the nuts and sucked the excitement and atmosphere out of the game before it even takes place. Please don't be true! I'll say it again... want a better atmosphere, give us big name opponents!


Wed, Jul 29, 2009 : 7:01 p.m.

When I was a student there in the 80s we would show up to the game an hour before kickoff and tried to be loud. There were a lot of older alumni who just were not loud and would get upset if people in the stadium stood through the game. Now the students don't show up until well into the 1st or 2nd QTR and it is embarrassing seeing an empty student section halfway through the game. If the students don't want to show up to support their team, may be they should be able to sell their tickets. We just need louder fans who will cheer. That stadium can get loud...I've been to big games in the 80s and 90s where it was so loud that it did cause havoc to the opposing team...but that happens very infrequently at the big house sad to say!


Wed, Jul 29, 2009 : 5:09 p.m.

I also agree that the crowd is the problem. I went to my first game in 1960, and have been told to sit down or given condescending treatment for cheering "at the wrong time" more times than I can count. They used to allow fans to bring in alcohol. That helped a lot, but there is still an old, arrogant faction with the stereotypical "sense of entitlement" that ruins UM games for both the home team and the rest of the fans. I can't imagine why on earth anyone would go to a game to be miserable, but many do. If they want to be miserable, fine, but they shouldn't expect everyone else to be miserable, too. I think there is one great solution that would create a lot more noise on the field. Since the NCAA constantly cites concern for the "student-athlete" as a reason for not having a playoff to determine a real champion, let them put their concern for students where their mouths are: give the students the lower bowl seats between the twenty-yard lines, including the coveted ones on the fifty. If they want to bang the drum about how the experience is "all about the students," then let them actually make the experience all about the students. The way the system is now, by the time you get seats where you could have a direct effect upon the game, you are too old, miserable, and tired to find the energy to do so. So you whine at others to "sit down." Let those who still have energy and passion have the best seats. And if some of them are library science majors who know absolutely nothing about football, big deal. It's their school for four years; let them experience whatever they can. This would create a great and amusing "whine and cheese rebellion" with the fans who sit on their hands. They would complain about their seats, and many would use it as an excuse to boycott UM and get rid of their tickets. If that happens, great. The real money is in those suites, and there will be plenty of fans to pick up the "boycotted" seats. Most of all, an elite football team will have a crowd befitting their elite status. It might even make the Big House an intimidating place to play again.


Wed, Jul 29, 2009 : 5:02 p.m.

Bring back the wave. We used to get penalized for disrupting the game, so Bo hated when we did it. But we did it anyway, and it got the crowd's blood pumping again after being crammed in for hours.


Wed, Jul 29, 2009 : 4:48 p.m.

jusgre - I TOTALLY AGREE!! I also have been told to sit down even during big games. Some sections are fine and all stand up but too many are not! There is a reason the defense looks to the crowd and signals them to stand and yell! Also the main thing the players asked for in the renovations was a way to make it louder in there so I hope all the "sit down" people move to the suites or their couch at home because I will be with you STANDING UP and GETTING LOUD!! GO BLUE! A little music during time outs would get the crowd going too.


Wed, Jul 29, 2009 : 4:35 p.m.

We should be undefeated when Penn St. comes to play us in late October. Just wait - it will be LOUD that day!! Go Blue!!! (I love the Wolverines).


Wed, Jul 29, 2009 : 4:30 p.m.

Sam, I agree that the sound dissipates and that the boxes should help in that regard. However, I've gone to Michigan games my entire life and have been told on many occasions to "sit down," even when cheering on the Defense before a big third down, for example. Many fans come to the game just to socialize or to sit and watch quietly as if they are at home on their couch. They then expect everyone around them to sit quietly and not interfere with their quiet experience. This has bothered me for years because I think fans like that take away from what should be a tremendous home field advantage. If fans want to watch the game comfortably and quietly, STAY HOME! I'm glad RR is doing something to try and get it louder in there, it's long past due.


Wed, Jul 29, 2009 : 4:26 p.m.

The typical Michigan fan feels ENTITLED to win, whereas the typical Penn State fan feels HUNGRY to win. Until our fans gain back that hunger, we'll never touch the noise level in Happy Valley.


Wed, Jul 29, 2009 : 4:04 p.m.

I think one factor is the actual stadium. Without decks, we're so spread out that our noise kinda dissipates. I'm hoping the new boxes can hold some of the sound in and bounce it back toward the field.